An interview with Shep Hyken: Creating “Moments of Magic” with Customers


Share on LinkedIn

Best-selling author and speaker Shep Hyken ( was gracious enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to spend some time sharing some amazing insights about how to go about creating “Moments of Magic” with customers. Shep is the author of Moments of Magic,The Loyal Customer,and most recently The Cult of the Customer.

The video player below will play all three parts of his interview, and you can find a condensed transcript of the 3-part interview as you continue to scroll down.


Steve: What kinds of changes have you seen in the customer satisfaction industry over the years?

Shep: Back in the early to mid-eighties, one of the companies that impacted my thinking was IBM. Their goal was to create such a value for their customers that the concept of price became less relevant. Since that time, companies have gotten on the “bandwagon,” they’ve said they believe in customer service and they want to provide it.

One of the changes we’ve seen is that the customer is becoming more intelligent about it; more savvy about it. They have higher expectations. It’s no longer, “Wow!” a surprise to get customer service, it’s, “No, I expect good customer service.”

Steve: I’ve personally noticed even in the past ten years the customer’s increase in knowledge about customer service, and it feels like the bar for everybody is getting raised for everyone.

Shep: Right, but each company has to recognize that the bar is not just getting raised for them or with a competitor, but they’re in competition with – let’s pick a great company like Nordstrom – who’s known for legendary service. If I go to another store, sure, I’m comparing that experience to Nordstrom. But if I get on an airplane or stay in a hotel, go to a restaurant, I’m also comparing the great service I get at Nordstrom, and hoping I’m going to get a similar experience, even though I’m completely outside of the industry.

Steve: What two or three steps can an organization take to attune their whole culture to outstanding customer satisfaction?

Shep: First we need to get everyone on the same page. And that is: we are all part of a customer service experience.

For example, people in the shipping/warehouse department may never have direct contact with that customer, but if they don’t pack the box properly or put the right items in box…that customer is going to have a negative experience. And even though they never talked to them, never touched them, they had direct responsibility at making that experience good or bad.

Second is creating alignment. A company would do well to take their mission and vision statement and pare it down to something very short; as short as one sentence long. Ritz Carlton is famous for what they call their credo: “We’re ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” The guests get it; it’s like a brand promise. The employees get it, they understand it and that’s what they want to deliver on.


Steve: How do you keep people engaged and keep them motivated?

Shep: Once again, we go back to: “It’s everybody’s job” and we’ve got to get everybody to believe it. Management, the high level execs, have to model the behavior. “You need to treat your employees the way you want your customers treated; if not even better.” Then it gets to the point where you model it with your peers. You create an empowering culture where people are allowed to try things as long as it’s something that doesn’t hurt the company, and it shouldn’t be illegal or immoral!

I have a little tool to create service awareness: it’s a little card, I call it the “Moments of Magic” card. In the back of my book The Cult of the Customer, or you can go to, there are some free downloads of forms and exercises there. Print out this little card, fill it out once every week or so with an example where you’ve created a great service experience for an internal customer or an outside customer.

What happens then is, the manager gets to see this and can pat someone on the back and say “Great job!” or “Can I share this with others?” or “By the way, this was excellent, but let me share how we might also do it in the future,” just to make it a learning opportunity. If this is done on an ongoing basis, you’ll be creating service awareness, and that is what is going to engage those employees.

Steve: How would you define what we’ve been discussing, this “moment of truth?”

Shep: Well, it’s straight out of the book titled Moments of Truth, by Jan Carlson. This was a guy who ran Scandinavian Airlines, and he took it over at a time when it was failing and losing lots of money. He turned it around by getting people to manage what he called the Moments of Truth in business. His definition was this: any time a passenger comes in contact with any aspect of our airline, they’re going to form an impression. Hopefully, it’s going to be a good one; that is the Moment of Truth.

Steve: Understanding that each situation is different, what general steps can translate a Moment of Misery to a Moment of Magic?

Shep: I’m going to give you one simplistic idea, and that is this: three things need to happen whenever there is a moment of misery.

  • Number one: it needs to be fixed. That’s obvious.
  • Number two: it needs to be done with the right attitude. That means a positive attitude; “I’m here to help you.” It’s an attitude of ownership.
  • The third piece is urgency. You’ve got to get it done quickly.

This isn’t a guarantee that it will work every single time, but in 90-plus percent of the problems taken care of that way, you’ll not only fix the problem, but this is very important, you will restore the customer’s confidence. That’s the big part of it: it’s restoring that confidence to make them want to do business with you again.


Steve: You use magic in some of your presentations, do you feel that magic somehow parallels the customer experience?

Shep: It goes back to my philosophy in life which is: “Have fun, and make my kids smile!” Performing has always been a passion, and I loved it. But what I figured out a way to do was to take what I loved and incorporate it into what I do. You know, “the avocation becomes the vocation.”
So today, in a typical speech, I’ll do a couple of tricks for fun, but they tie in really well, especially because I talk about Moments of Magic, and I talk about “being amazing.”

Steve: One final question: what do you think customers value most?

Shep: In one word, I would sum it up as “confidence.” If we can create confidence with a customer, they’re going to feel comfortable. People like to do business with people they know, they like, and they trust. While that’s a cliché, it’s true. You can’t have loyalty without confidence.

My goal, with the Moment of Magic, is to be better than average, all the time. That’s what the amazing companies do. When you do that, you’ll create that confidence. That’s the gift that you can give a customer.

Email Shep or call the number below to talk about how Shep can fit into

your next program!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Martorano
Steve has been on the front lines with customers for over 25 years. He is currently Director of Customer Services for Polygon Northwest, a real estate developer in both the Seattle and Portland markets. Steve is also the creator of, an online resource designed to provide insights and training to customer professionals across many industries.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here